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Review: You Know When the Men Are Gone

February 10, 2011

You Know When the Men Are Gone, by Siobhan Fallon is a collection of eight interconnected short stories about the way military deployments affect all of those involved.  All of the stories are about families stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, and are told from the point of view of the men who are deployed as well as the wives who are at home trying to maintain some form of normalcy.  These are the stories of the fiercely dedicated men who are fighting for their country and their fiercely determined wives.  They’re the stories of families sacrificing in order to support a cause they believe in.  These stories tell of heartbreaking loneliness and unfathomable loss.

I’ve put off writing about this book simply because I don’t think I can do it justice.  Fallon’s writing is stunning and her words are achingly beautiful.  This is the type of book that you can’t put down, yet want to draw out as long as possible.  Don’t dismiss You Know When the Men Are Gone if you don’t read short stories, because this collection reads more like a novel.  Many characters appear in more than one story and, of course, Fort Hood is central to all of them.

Siobhan Fallon is married to an Army major and lived in Fort Hood, Texas through two of her husband’s deployments to Iraq.  She knows firsthand just how difficult these separations are for everyone and that is clear in these stories.  The love, camaraderie and sense of community are evident as well.   I was young when my father retired from the military so I only remember his last deployment.  I remember the way things were different at home and also remember being afraid that I wouldn’t recognize my father when he returned.  This book reminded me of those feelings and brought tears to my eyes more than once.

I cannot express just how much I loved You Know When the Men Are Gone.  I’m positive it will be one of my favorites of the year, and I urge everyone to read it.  It’s an important book that should not be missed!

Challenges: Amy Einhorn Challenge

Review copy provided by Penguin Books.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
49 Comments leave one →
  1. February 10, 2011 5:19 am

    what about when the women are gone? someone needs to right that good too.

  2. February 10, 2011 6:04 am

    I’ve heard such wonderful things about this book…I can’t wait to read it.

  3. February 10, 2011 6:12 am

    This sounds so good! I have a thing for novels in stories, so I’ll keep an eye out for it for sure.

  4. February 10, 2011 6:37 am

    I don’t read may short story collections, but this sounds really good. Nice review Kathy

  5. February 10, 2011 7:03 am

    It does sound like a book I’d enjoy!

  6. February 10, 2011 8:38 am

    It must be so hard to have your husband taken away so often. The worry it must cause. This sounds like a book that needs to be read.

  7. February 10, 2011 8:45 am

    I can’t wait to read this one! Yours is just one more in the huge list of glowing blogger reviews. 🙂

  8. February 10, 2011 8:50 am

    Yours is not the first glowing review of this book I have read, and despite the fact that it is sad, it’s one that I really want to read. I am intrigued by the fact that it’s a short story collection but reads more like a novel. Great review, Kathy!

  9. February 10, 2011 9:36 am

    going to add it to my MUST READ.
    Your enthusiasm for this one makes it enough to know that this book is good.

  10. February 10, 2011 9:43 am

    If her writing is “achingly beautiful” then I must read it!

  11. February 10, 2011 9:46 am

    Impressive review! Sounds like I have to consider this, even though I too am not much into short stories!

  12. February 10, 2011 10:00 am

    Yay for Siobhan! Another great review!

  13. novelwhore permalink
    February 10, 2011 10:02 am

    I’m not a fan of short stories either, but like you said – thought this read more like a novel. A very emotional one at that. Great review!

  14. February 10, 2011 10:56 am

    Will definitely try to read this one, great review!

  15. February 10, 2011 10:58 am

    I’ve been getting into short stories a lot lately and this one sounds like one I would really enjoy.

  16. February 10, 2011 12:01 pm

    Nice review.

    Not sure about the format…but since they do go together then perhaps

  17. February 10, 2011 12:35 pm

    I’m going to get my hands on this audio, hopefully. I love short stories!

  18. February 10, 2011 12:49 pm

    Another great review.

    I loved this book! No one should be put off by the short story format. They are interconnecting and riveting. When I finished, I wanted more.

  19. February 10, 2011 1:14 pm

    Thank you for your review, sometimes it is so hard to put into words just how certain books are.

  20. February 10, 2011 1:53 pm

    This is definitely one that I’ve wanted to read. Being from a military family and always being surrounded by the military with my sister, brother-in-law, father, and husband, this is definitely going to be one that I’m confident I will enjoy. So glad to see that this was one that you liked as well, Kathy 🙂

  21. Beth Hoffman permalink
    February 10, 2011 2:16 pm

    I’m so glad you loved it! I have it on my TBR list. Great review, Kathy!

  22. February 10, 2011 2:19 pm

    It sounds like a good book. I have 2 friends who are wives with husbands in the military at Ft. Hood. I know from them how difficult it can be to keep some level of normalcy for the family and how much joy they feel when they come home from tour and the anxiousness as they count down the days for their return. I’ll have to look into this book. Thanks for sharing Kathy!

  23. February 10, 2011 2:33 pm

    Wow, this is the second review of this book that has just plead with me to read it! I am going to add it to my wishlist now!

  24. February 10, 2011 3:49 pm

    What a timely review Kathy!! My son who is currently serving in the Marine Corp, just got engaged. I think I may buy this one, read it first and then give it to his fiancee. Right now they have a long distance relationship, but a deployment is a whole other thing!!

  25. February 10, 2011 3:58 pm

    Your review is terrific!! And I second your thoughts — just an amazing book!

  26. February 10, 2011 4:24 pm

    Beautiful review, Kathy. Your heart-felt enthusiasm for this book is palpable.

  27. February 10, 2011 4:25 pm

    I can’t wait to read this book.

  28. February 10, 2011 4:34 pm

    It is a wonderful book and your review was perfect.

  29. February 10, 2011 4:40 pm

    I’ve been looking forward to this one but “achingly beautiful” moves it to the top of the list!

  30. February 10, 2011 5:08 pm

    I just don’t think I could live like that but I applaud the families who do.

  31. February 10, 2011 5:13 pm

    Wow. I’m not a short story lover, but when they are done right, they can be miles better than a novel. Thanks for the review. It was good you said characters crop up in more than one story – I like it when that happens.

  32. February 10, 2011 6:03 pm

    Thanks for a wonderful review.

  33. February 10, 2011 7:50 pm

    Sounds so good! Not sure why I haven’t checked this one out before. I’ve seen it around the blogosphere, but it hasn’t been on my radar. It will be now.

  34. February 10, 2011 7:54 pm

    I love it when you love books. And I always trust your opinion.

  35. February 10, 2011 10:02 pm

    Although it may bring back some old memories, I’d like to read how modern day families are handling separations like this. I’m sure it’s still as difficult.

  36. February 11, 2011 2:26 pm

    Favorites of the year! Wow! I have a brother-in-law stationed at Fort Hood so I’ll have to check this out and maybe pass it on to a girlfriend of mine whose brother is station down there as well.

  37. February 11, 2011 4:37 pm

    I’ve read two or three of the stories so far and must agree it’s a wonderful book.

  38. February 11, 2011 6:18 pm

    Kathy,
    WOW, what an exceptionally lovely review!
    Thank you so much for picking the collection up and taking time to post about it (and, of course, for saying such nice things!). And thank you to your readers above– I hope the stories ring true to you, especially those of you who know service members.
    Again, thanks for the wonderful support. This review and the generous comments will keep me smiling all weekend!
    Best,
    Siobhan Fallon

  39. February 11, 2011 8:45 pm

    Message received! I’ll look for it. The title got my attention right away.

  40. February 11, 2011 9:04 pm

    I’ve seen this one but didn’t realize what it was about. It sounds fantastic.

    2 Kids and Tired Books

  41. February 11, 2011 9:06 pm

    This sounds like a beautiful book. My brother is in the army right now so it should be weird when he finally is deployed.

  42. February 12, 2011 7:06 am

    Yet another review I had to skip to the end because I haven’t written mine yet — so glad you loved this too.

  43. February 12, 2011 7:44 am

    I’m looking forward to this one. So happy to see that it is a favorite.

  44. February 12, 2011 2:19 pm

    I’m really enjoying this one so far (although I had to put it down to play catch up for a read-along. I agree it reads like a novel. I’ve discovered I really enjoy short story collections with a strong theme even though I’m rather ambivalent about short stories in general.

  45. February 14, 2011 7:36 pm

    Sounds like one for my TBR stack

  46. February 14, 2011 8:10 pm

    i’m really looking forward to reading this book so i’m glad you enjoyed it!

  47. February 15, 2011 3:18 pm

    I’ve heard this compared to The Things They Carried. Your review, along with so many others, has convinced me that this book must go on my future reading list!

  48. February 17, 2011 2:09 pm

    This one sounds fantastic. Reminds me of two shows I love, The Unit and Army Wives. I’ll have to buy this one, thanks for the review.

  49. March 1, 2011 11:34 pm

    This is the second or third time I have heard about this book and everyone seems to believe that it is definitely a book that needs to be read. And i really do want to read this one – I am totally in love with short stories linked together to create a novel. Genius.

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